The best and most representative sample is a random sample , in which each member of a population has an equal chance of being chosen as a subject. In quantitative research , information collected from respondents for example, a respondent's college ranking is converted into numbers for example, a junior may equal three and a senior four.
In qualitative research , information collected from respondents takes the form of verbal descriptions or direct observations of events. Although verbal descriptions and observations are useful, many scientists prefer quantitative data for purposes of analysis. To analyze data, scientists use statistics , which is a collection of mathematical procedures for describing and drawing inferences from the data.
Two types of statistics are most common: Scientists use both types of statistics to draw general conclusions about the population being studied and the sample. But a sociologist can surely experiment in the laboratory of the world by employing the Comparative Method. Similarly, Weber also finds direct relation between the practical ethics of a community and character of its economic system.
But the application of this method is not as simple as it may appear. The first difficulty in the application of this method is that social units have different meanings in different countries. The institution of marriage, for instance, has different meanings for the people of India and for westerners. We consider it as an indissoluble sacred bond of union between husband and wife whereas the western people take it as a union of loose type breakable at the will of either party.
Sociology makes use of Inverse Deductive Method on a large scale. This method was advocated by J. Mill and involves the following procedure:. In the first place, it assumes that there is relation between different elements of social life.
As we have mentioned above, Taylor had applied this method to the comparative and statistical study of the institutions connected with the family among the primitive peoples and showed that the practice of mother-in-law avoidance is co-related with the custom of matrilocal residence.
Similarly, it has been suggested that there is some relationship between industrialisation and capitalism, between urbanisation and disintegration of the family, between war and class differentiations and so on.
The rise of nobility and the extensive development of serfdom appear to be correlated with the growth of the economic system.
Secondly, after finding the correlation between the institutions, we come to the study of sequences i. Thirdly, if the laws of co-relative changes or sequences are established they provide what J. Mill called the middle principles of sociology.
Finally, such laws would not, however, yield the final explanation of social phenomenon; they would require to be related to more ultimate laws of Psychology and Social Psychology which govern the life and evolution of human societies as such. Thus Sociology cannot make use of either deductive method or inductive method. It makes use of inverse deductive method which is a combination of inductive obtained by means of the comparative method or by statistical method with deduction from more ultimate laws.
According to this method an ideal is constructed from concrete cases and then a particular case is evaluated according to the degree of its approximation to the ideal. According to Weber, an ideal type of social behaviour involves a description of certain aims and normative controls, from which springs a notion of the rational course of action. The ideal type analysis and scales of personal values have proved very valuable for descriptive and analytical studies. This method has further been employed with profit in Marxian interpretation whether the ideal types are classes having conflicting objectives.
But this method has its difficulties the construction of an ideal is not an easy task. It is a subjective process, influence of personal preference cannot, therefore, be ruled out in constructing an ideal.
Secondly, the ideal once fixed cannot be good for all times as it is liable to change with the change in situations. Thirdly, this method is not adequate to understand the complexity of society. The Statistical Method is used to measure social phenomenon mathematically that is with the help of figures.
It is obvious that Statistics can be used with advantage where the problem can be expressed in quantitative terms as in measuring the growth of population, the increase of birth and death rates, rise and fall in income etc.
Giddings was the first great sociologist to emphasise the importance of statistics for sociological researches. Much of the research work in Sociology is currently being carried on with the help of the data collected through statistics, for example, in studying population, migration, economic conditions, human ecology etc. But the great difficulty in adopting the statistical method is that mostly the social problems are qualitative and not quantitative.
This method can, therefore, be used in a limited sphere only. In American sociology statistics have played an important role. There sociologists have been able to reduce more and more of sociological data to quantitative terms and thus to deal with them statistically. A new method of sociometry has been recently evolved by some sociologists for the measurement of such nonstatistical relations as envy, class conflicts, social adjustments etc.
Sociometry is a set of techniques to measure in quantitative and diagrammatic terms attractions and repulsions in interpersonal relations. The approach has been very useful in the study of small group structures, personality trait and social status. It discloses the feelings people have for one another and provides various indexes or measures of interaction.
The sociometric test can be very helpful in the assignment of personnel to work groups in such a way as to achieve a maximum of inter-personal harmony and a minimum of inter-personal friction. This technique is, in a sense, a combination of ideal type analysis and statistics. The method was at first initiated by G. Moreno in his book. Though it was primarily and chiefly used by psychologists but its value in the study of sociological problems is now being gradually recognised.
This method is simple and reliable; however, it measures only one aspect of inter-personal attitudes and is not quantified. The social survey method consists in the collection of data concerning the living and working conditions of people in a given area with a view to formulating practical social measures for their betterment and welfare.
Thus social survey is concerned with collection of data relating to some problems of social importance with a view to formulating a constructive programme for its solution. It is conducted within a fixed geographical limit. Social surveys are of various types. These surveys are very useful as they do not only provide detailed accounts of the social and economic facts but also bring home various social evils prevalent among the people of the area concerned and thereby draw the attention of the government to eradicate these evils by passing appropriate legislation.
America and England have been making use of social surveys, both general and specialized, since long on a very large scale to solve some of their social problems. India and other underdeveloped countries are also now benefiting from social surveys both in the urban and rural areas which they are conducting either on their own or with the co-operation and help of other advanced countries.
Gathering of enough information about a person to understand how he or she functions as a unit of society. The case study method is employed in studying an individual case or that of a group, a community or an institution.
The contention underlying it is that any case being studied is a. Burgess assigns it the name of social Microscope. This method is usually employed for the study of professional criminal and other social deviants and involves an investigation and an analysis of all the factors entering into the case and its examination from as many points of view as possible.
Any adequate sociological study shows fusion of case method and historical method. Expressed somewhat differently it is an approach which views any social unit as a whole. Some of the techniques used in the method are interviews, questionnaires, life histories, documents of all kinds having a bearing on the subject and all such material which may enable the sociologist to have a deep insight into the problem. Thoroughness is the keystone of this method. Case work is based on the principles of acceptance, self determination and confidentiality.
A classic example of field research is Kai T. The flood occurred when an artificial dam composed of mine waste gave way after days of torrential rain.
The local mining company had allowed the dam to build up in violation of federal law. When it broke, million gallons of water broke through and destroyed several thousand homes in seconds while killing people. Some 2, other people were rendered instantly homeless. Erikson was called in by the lawyers representing the survivors to document the sociological effects of their loss of community, and the book he wrote remains a moving account of how the destruction of the Buffalo Creek way of life profoundly affected the daily lives of its residents.
Intensive interviewing can yield in-depth information about the subjects who are interviewed, but the results of this research design cannot necessarily be generalized beyond these subjects. Similar to experiments, observational studies cannot automatically be generalized to other settings or members of the population.
Sometimes sociologists do not gather their own data but instead analyze existing data that someone else has gathered. Census Bureau, for example, gathers data on all kinds of areas relevant to the lives of Americans, and many sociologists analyze census data on such topics as poverty, employment, and illness.
Sociologists interested in crime and the legal system may analyze data from court records, while medical sociologists often analyze data from patient records at hospitals. Analysis of existing data such as these is called secondary data analysis. Its advantage to sociologists is that someone else has already spent the time and money to gather the data.
A disadvantage is that the data set being analyzed may not contain data on all the variables in which a sociologist may be interested or may contain data on variables that are not measured in ways the sociologist might prefer.
Nonprofit organizations often analyze existing data, usually gathered by government agencies, to get a better understanding of the social issue with which an organization is most concerned. They then use their analysis to help devise effective social policies and strategies for dealing with the issue.
In several nations beyond the United States, nonprofit organizations often use social science research, including sociological research, to develop and evaluate various social reform strategies and social policies.
Canada is one of these nations. Information on Canadian social research organizations can be found at http: According to its Web site http: This project at the time of this writing involved a team of five senior researchers and almost two dozen younger scholars. CRISP notes that Canada may have the most complete data on child development in the world but that much more research with these data needs to be performed to help inform public policy in the area of child development.
Everything in its path: Destruction of community in the Buffalo Creek flood. Tell them who I am: The lives of homeless women. The specific deterrent effects of arrest for domestic assault. American Sociological Review, 49 , — The social structure of an Italian slum. University of Chicago Press. This is a derivative of Sociology: For uses beyond those covered by law or the Creative Commons license, permission to reuse should be sought directly from the copyright owner.
Understanding and Changing the Social World. Learning Objective List the major advantages and disadvantages of surveys, experiments, and observational studies. Large surveys are expensive and time consuming. Although much information is gathered, this information is relatively superficial. Experiments If random assignment is used, experiments provide fairly convincing data on cause and effect. Because experiments do not involve random samples of the population and most often involve college students, their results cannot readily be generalized to the population.
Observation field research Observational studies may provide rich, detailed information about the people who are observed. Because observation studies do not involve random samples of the population, their results cannot readily be generalized to the population. Existing data Because existing data have already been gathered, the researcher does not have to spend the time and money to gather data.
An introduction to research methods in Sociology covering quantitative, qualitative, primary and secondary data and defining the basic types of research method including social surveys, experiments, interviews, participant observation, ethnography and longitudinal studies.
Sociological Research: Designs, Methods Sociologists use many different designs and methods to study society and social behavior. Most sociological research involves ethnography, or “field work” designed to depict the characteristics of a population as fully as possible.
Using sociological methods and systematic research within the framework of the scientific method and a scholarly interpretive perspective, sociologists have discovered workplace patterns that have transformed industries, family patterns that have enlightened parents, and education patterns that have aided structural changes in classrooms. Sociological research methods fall into broad categories of quantitative and qualitative approaches, but studies frequently use “mixed methods” incorporating both. Quantitative methods include measurement by sample surveys, statistical modeling, social networks, and demography.
1. What is Sociological Research? - Positivist, Interpretive and Critical Approaches Human society is a complex network, and there are many ways to study it. In this lesson, we'll look at three. Filter by Custom Post Type. Home» Sociology» Research Methods in Sociology. Research Methods in Sociology.